outstretched hands

Last week I received a request for help from a distraught mother about her mentally ill adult son. After explaining everything, she wrote, "I'm at my wit's end..."

Luckily, San Mateo County was able to offer her son treatment under a brand new program called Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) run by the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Division. In 2015, our Board approved the development of this pilot program more commonly known as Laura's Law.

Eligible individuals must be 18 years or older and a resident of San Mateo County with an untreated serious mental illness that causes them to be unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. Additionally, the person’s mental health must have either resulted in a psychiatric hospitalization or incarceration two or more times in the past three years or resulted in threats or acts of violent behavior towards themselves or someone else in the past four years.

It expands the circle of people who can make referrals/or requests for help with this program to include:

- Immediate family members who are adults
- Adults who reside with the individual
- Director of a hospital, facility or other organization treating the person
- Mental health providers treating the person
- Probation, parole or police officer

AOT services include outreach, assessment, intensive case management, psychiatric interventions, community supports, housing assistance, and a 24/7 response capacity.